• Micara Rooplall

Caster Semenya - an Athletic Champion

South Africa’s 29-year-old athlete, Caster Semenya is known for making South Africa proud in every race she runs. Not only is she an amazing athlete, but also a true champion and role model to anyone who admires her courage and determination to succeed despite the crushing opposition she faces at every point and turn.

(Rickert, 2018).

She has won many prizes and gold medals throughout her career and is known for running, specialising in middle-distance events and participating in international competitions, including the recent 2016 Olympics, where she brought home a gold medal after winning the women’s 800m event. She also broke and set a new Olympic record at one minute and 55,28 seconds.

Caster has a condition by which her body produces testosterone at a higher level and rate than a woman’s body normally does. Due to this condition, she has been facing criticism for many years – but this has not stopped her from participating and succeeding in athletics.

In 2009, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had asked female participants with this condition to undergo gender verification testing. Subsequently, Caster Semenya was granted permission to compete in the World Championships, where she won a gold medal.

Since 2009, she has been caught-up in a slew of court cases and appeals regarding the IAAF’s rules and regulations. The IAAF stated that women with a higher testosterone level have an unfair advantage over other participants. Many people disagree with this, as this rule does not always apply to male athletes who have the same condition. The IAAF claims that medication that can reduce the testosterone levels in women must be taken in order for them to participate in middle or long-distance races.

Caster appealed against the IAAF’s rule at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, but unfortunately lost the case. She took to social media platforms, stating that she is changing her track event, as the rules do not apply to distances under 400m. After breaking the national record for the 300m race, she said: “I’m here to stay,” and “track and field, you will still see my face.”

No matter how many battles she has to face in her career, she will continue making South Africa proud. Everyone will continue to watch her, waiting for her well-known, iconic move of flexing and swiftly dusting the dirt off her shoulder in a jet-like motion. Caster Semenya once said: “God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.” She is loved and accepted by South Africa too – and everyone can agree that medals look good on her.

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